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Michael Harvey

Associate Professor, Department of Business Management

My focus: the questions that spark leadership

Follow me [@profharvey] on Twitter:

  • RT @WhiteHouse: "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see." —@POTUS [June 26, 2015 at 11:14 pm]
  • RT @WhiteHouse: America should be very proud. #LoveWins http://t.co/qH1OA1BV2j [June 26, 2015 at 11:13 pm]
  • @tanehisicoates ‘valor’ is a noun, and a fine one. No reason not to claim it as one wishes. But yes, yuright, fusty Walter Scott tones too [June 26, 2015 at 5:23 pm]


  • M.S., International Business, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, 1998
  • Ph.D., Government, Cornell University, 1995
  • M.A., Government, Cornell University, 1990
  • B.A., English, University of Maryland, 1982
  • Non-degree studies, Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies (Rome), 1982

My most recent publication is  Leadership Studies: The Dialogue of Disciplines  (Elgar, 2011), co-edited it with Prof. Ronald F. Riggio of Claremont College. I wrote the concluding chapter. The book has been recognized as one of the year’s best books in leadership studies by the International Leadership Association.

In my work, I’m interested in the questions that spark leadership. A good leader is the group’s “asker-in-chief.” The leader bears primary responsibility for asking hard questions about the group’s identity, survival, and purpose, for finding answers, and for activating the answers, turning them into effective actions.

In some heroic or charismatic models of leadership, the leader may try to do all this himself or herself. But in most groups and organizations these tasks of asking, answering, and activating are  collaborative or distribute, and the leader’s most important role will be in modeling and fostering a culture of action-based inquiry.

My research is interdisciplinary, drawing on the social sciences, interviews, imaginative literature, and classic texts stretching back to ancient literature. I’ve written about everything from Gilgamesh to Henry Ford. Leadership doesn’t come in neat little boxes, so we have to be imaginative and creative in how we explore it.


I’ve taught at Washington College since 1998. My teaching focuses on Organizational Behavior and Leadership. I also teach a lot of writing-intensive courses, and I often teach first-year courses on leadership topics.

Teaching in a liberal-arts environment is a dream come true for me. It’s an ongoing fun challenge to weave together good business management education with a liberal-arts perspective. One of my favorite assignments for achieving this is the work interview: all my students in BUS 302 Organizational Behavior have to interview an experienced working individual. Usually they choose a parent, and for some students it’s the first serious, prolonged discussion about work and careers they’ve ever had with their parent.

If I help students appreciate the power of questions to spark insight, action and change–and if I help students analyze, speak, and write with more clarity and impact–then I feel I’ve done my job.

Fun stuff

My wife Sabine and I have a daughter in college and a son in high school. Sabine, a master gardener, loves to garden and teach young people about gardens and local, sustainable agriculture. (You can learn more about the amazing gardens she has helped start here.)

I love playing chess and am fascinated by its history ( you can check my self-published chess primer out of our local library). I’ve served as a volunteer chess coach in schools, churches, and the library.